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NYC settles lawsuit claiming rape by Rikers Island guard

New York City lawyers on Monday said the city had settled a lawsuit by two women claiming they were raped by a guard at Rikers Island, and as a result, a bid for a class action alleging systemic failure to protect female prisoners will be dropped.

The settlement was disclosed to Manhattan U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein, who had scheduled a trial to begin next week. Hellerstein had previously refused to authorize a class action, and that ruling is being appealed to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Lawyers for the city and the plaintiffs – known as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 – refused to reveal the amount of the settlement, but Mitch Lowenthal, a lawyer for the women, said it was “considerable.”

The class action, he said, “will have to wait for another plaintiff.” The guard accused of raping the women, Benny Santiago, has not settled, his lawyer told Hellerstein, and is scheduled to go forward with trial alone.

“The City is committed to protecting inmates entrusted to its care from sexual abuse and has implemented numerous reforms in this regard,” said a spokesman for the city law department. “We have reached a settlement in principle that is in the best interest of the City. “

CORRECTION: Mitch Lowenthal’s name was incorrect in a previous version of this story.

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